November 29, 2011

Explaining is blocking active learning

Every week I have the honour to work with several schools to give
Dalton training to an unknown team of teachers somewhere in our country.
As a Dalton Consultant I work on free-lance base for
Wenke Dalton Consultancy/KPZ.
It often happens that I have the same kind of fundamental discussion.
Basic elements of the Dalton concept are always in the centre of the attention.
I try to challenge a school team to give their own interpretation of the three Dalton ‘cornerstones’:
responsibility – self reliance – cooperation.

Some time ago, a very nice colleague reacted very honestly and openly.
Elaborating the independency of pupils, he spoke about his worries. The motivation of the children in his class was low, the attention during the instruction was bad and he ended with his conclusion: “These pupils are not learning enough”.
I asked him to analyze his way of teaching and after short time most of the colleagues in this school came to the same conclusion that in their education
the teacher is the most active person. And in their opinion it was the best and most effective way to teach.
“Much instruction is the best way to teach”, they explained.
This attitude is a logical one.
Didn’t we all learn in our pedagogical institutes that a good teacher is the teacher who can explain the most difficult parts of the curriculum?
But there is still that main problem on the background of this discussion:
*pupils are not motivated anymore to listen.
*the attention of children is declining.
I have to provocate at that moment, to make my statement clear.
When I ask why a teacher is putting so much energy in instruction, the answer is always:
“When pupils don’t understand some assignment you have to explain, because that is the only way to help them”.
The crucial thing is of course: how can we make the children active and motivated?
I must admit that teaching is the activity of the teacher and it will be forever.
But learning is the activity of the pupil. No teacher can take over that activity!
Instruction is not the only way to fill the gap.
We have to arrange different instructional formats (teaching methods) to make the children active.
Are we able to realize that pupils nowadays belong to the E- generation?
The Dutch professor Wim Veen is using ‘Homo Zappiens’ for this new generation.
They consume information on their own way. They are used to calculators, television, Play Station, computers.
They sit in front of the television and they consume the products very quickly: if it is not interesting enough they simply switch to another programme.
And computers are their sixth organ.
The question is if the teacher happy with that development? But they can be happy that the remote control is not working in school.
Perhaps not, because even parents have problems to stimulate their own children to do their homework instead of sitting in front of the television.
But most likely you are the teacher of a whole group of such whiz kids.

It is not so strange that my Dutch colleague complained about the learning attitude of his students.
Students are used to be active themselves instead of long listening for information. They have the drive to explore. Listening to long instruction is for them like reading the instruction guide of a new computer programme. And no-one will do it, they all start to explore.
The first child that wants to read the instruction booklet before he/she wants to work with that programme has still to be born.

Students want activity, want to discover, do it themselves. That’s not a negative attitude, that’s real motivation.
And we teachers have to accept the changes in the consumption pattern of the audience in our classrooms. We are the professionals and that’s why we don’t want to serve them every day the same fast-food. Let’s be creative and make them real hungry.
Students want to be challenged to demonstrate their competences. They are not interested in the long demonstrations of the competence of the teacher. It will reduce their own competence.
We have to use our talents and it is not necessary to throw away everything from the former century.
Helen Parkhurst simply developed her Dalton concept on three basic needs of pupils :
• they must have the feeling to be safe and respected
• they must have the feeling to be competent
• they must have the feeling to be independent

It is time for a design of our education, based on these basic needs.

Roel Röhner
Senior Dalton Consultant

Creative dynamics

Every now and than I read again parts in one of my favorite
books 'The Element' by Ken Robinson.
Today I like to share with you a quote about creativity.

"Creativity is the strongest example of the dynamic nature of
intelligence, and it can call on all areas of our minds and being".

November 27, 2011

Birthday party

Yesterday great party with family and many friends.

November 26, 2011

November 25, 2011

November 24, 2011

Join this Dalton blog

I invite all readers of this blog to sign in as member.
(See left and follow instructions)

Dalton is a way of living

For a long time I try to fight the disease of parrotism.
It is a harmless infection but very annoying.
After visiting an international Dalton conference in London
some prominent educators from Holland came back and wrote
articles about the educational innovation they discovered.
To summarize 'The Dalton Laboratory Plan' they used one phrase:
Dalton is a way of life.
From that moment on the parrotism started.
In many websites of Dalton schools and in too many articles of
'Dalton specialists' I find the same phrase.
Isn't it a clever idea to search in the material Helen Parkhurst
wrote herself?
"To sum up, the Dalton Plan
should primarily be regarded
as a way of school living.
It is a way wherein each
young individual soul can
find opportunity for the use and
the expression of the best that in him lies. Only so can personality
reach its highest development and learning become pregnant with purpose".

By the way: parrots are nice and colourful.

November 23, 2011

The actuality of Dalton

Teachers nowadays must learn how to handle more and more
differences between children in one classroom.
In other words, the question is how to create an adaptive
education? An education organized from the proposition that
children differ from each other.
In primary education it is not possible to select at the
entrance of school life. It means that we are confronted
with very heterogeneous groups.
These differences between pupils make a strong appeal to
the professional skill and the expertise of the teacher.
Their level of teaching-strategy and educational ability,
their skills to organize the educational process, are
Characteristic of the pedagogical relation is that teachers
promote the self reliance and the responsibility of pupils.
Taking differences into account, the teacher is constantly
searching for a balance between giving security and challenging
the children.
The basic condition to motivate children is to recognize and
to tune in the individual aspects of individual development.

November 19, 2011

Good teachers inspire children

A very nice story about my favorite athleet Usain Bolt.
Here an interview with his inspiring teacher.

Usain is in the position to tell his story, but even
important are all his mates in the same classroom which
will have a similar story without having been interviewed.

November 18, 2011

Blogging in Europe

Waiting for
the blog of
one school.

November 17, 2011

November 16, 2011

General Blog
for actual
about this

Dalton project in Senegal

See here how students from Holland are working out ideas
for the Dalton implementation in the school in Senegal.

Action guides

November 12, 2011

Top team from Bilbao.
Organizers of the
"Blogging in Europe"

November 11, 2011

November 10, 2011

Start project in Bilbao

Representatives of schools from five different countries worked
together on the project 'Blogging in Europe'.
Every school will create a weblog in which teachers and children
can show their school, elements of their culture and the highlights
of school life.
During my workshops I introduced elements of the Dalton education,
and the colleagues discussed about the value of responsibility,
independency and co-operation in the educational process in their

November 5, 2011

Howard Gardner visited School4Child

Howard Gardner was visiting Poland last week.
He gave some lectures and visited the first Dalton primary school
in Poland.
School4Child is integrating multiple intelligences in their program.

November 3, 2011

Comenius project

Next Monday a very interesting
project will start in Bilbao.

Reportage about this project
next week in this blog.